Big Ticket Items
I know people like to go shopping on Black Friday. I shudder to think who these people are, of course. Stores in my area were touting how they were going to open at midnight or 5 a.m. and I can't think of a single circumstance that would prod me to be anywhere near these establishments ever.
Then, of course, I went and bought a house today.
Go big or go home, I say.
I should say, Emet and I bought a house and, we really haven't bought it yet, escrow and large cashier's checks and all (she's the one with the bulk of the cash; I'm just the guy with the enviable credit score and a certain inalienable charm), but we found out today our offer was accepted.
It's been a huge pain in the ass, this house-hunting. Despite what you read in the papers, the recession is not over and the real estate market is not rebounding and buyers are not snatching up cut-rate deals. The truth of the matter is that inventory is ridiculously low, an artificial tightening of the market thanks you your favorite local bank, which is using every trick at its disposal to keep prices stable. There's a huge shadow inventory of bank-owned homes the finiancial sector is holding onto, for a couple major reasons.
1. If they release all the homes in their stead all at once, prices will plummet due to over-supply.
2. Until they release them (or, more properly, buy them at foreclosure), they can still use the last sale price as the actual price of the home on their balance sheets. Since these paper shenanigans show the asset as worth $300K more than it's actually worth, they don't take a hit on the bottom line or from their shareholders.
The best part of all this is these are the same folks who've gotten billions in bailout money for these toxic assets.
Guess who wins? Not you. Or us.
This was the third offer we'd made. All on standard sales. We shied from short sales because, well, that's just a never-ending waiting game filled with fraud and incompetence. We did look at a couple bank-owned homes, but every one of them was in terrible condition (due to the foreclosure process taking upwards of two years now, allowing lame-duck homeowners to live in a home in which they no longer have a vested interest, a fact which, at best, results in apathy, and, at worst results in wholesale destruction).
So we stuck to the standard sales. The first one on which we made an offer, the realtor got 18 offers. In two days. Thanks to our impressive credit scores (and my charm), our offer made it to the semi-final round before succumbing to a cash offer. Same with the second try. We allegedly finished second in that one, or, as I've taught AJ that calling someone a "loser" is not nice, we'll use his phrase, "Anti-Winner."
Frustrating, sure, but no more than the lack of available properties.
Finally, events conspired for us to get the latest house. It's a standard sale, as well, and the owners have lived there since it was new (15 years ago), so have lots of equity, meaning they didn't have to monkey around with the price to pay off their second and third loans. Secondly, we made our offer during the holiday week, when there was little traffic, and this time of year is typically slow for real estate because people don't want to move during the holiday season. Third, the owners were anxious to just be done with the process. Near as I can tell, ours was the first (fair) offer and they jumped at it.
So, now WE get to move during the holidays, fine on one hand since Emet has the Christmas Break off from teaching; not so fine as we're going to be out of town between Christmas and New Year's. But we will abide.
Emet's home alone tonight as I have a date with the fam at my sister's nephew's high school football playoff game and she can't logistically make it. She was kinda bummed, but I reminded her that this is likely her last ever night without the company of at least one, and often two, loud, smelly boys. So the celebration will have to hold for another day.
It's a curious feeling. Exhilaration and "Holy crap we have a lot of work to do" in at the same time. Maybe that's why people get up at 5 a.m. to go to Target on Black Friday. Me? I'm gonna try to keep the stress under control for the next 30 days and be thankful that the search is over, that AJ's getting a new bedroom (and basketball hoop!) for Christmas and that Emet and I will finally have a place to call our home.